Good evening, and thank you Dr. Starr, President Barclay, and Members of the Board, for giving us this opportunity to provide input on the recommended CIP budget. My name is Seenu Suvarna and I represent the Clarksburg Cluster this evening.
In continued recognition of our community’s growth, we would like to thank Dr. Starr for his recommendation that keeps the new Clarksburg Village Elementary School and Clarksburg High School addition on schedule. These projects cannot come too soon, as Little Bennett is projected to be at 157% capacity that year, and Clarksburg High School at 117%.
Although we are relieved that these two projects have been kept on schedule, we are extremely displeased with the recommendation that the new Middle School be delayed a year. Currently, with Rocky Hill Middle School at “only” 105% of capacity, we can see why Dr. Starr believes there is room for delay. However, Rocky Hill is projected to be over 127% of capacity by 2015, and 135% in 2016, when the new school is now scheduled to open. Our children cannot afford any further delays.
If the new middle school is delayed beyond 2016, there will be at least 300 more students than today.
If the new middle school is delayed beyond 2016, more than the current 8 portables will be needed, cannibalizing other instructional space.
If the new middle school is delayed beyond 2016, there will again have to be 4 or more lunch periods.
If the new middle school is delayed beyond 2016, the school will run out of gym lockers.
If the new middle school is delayed beyond 2016, the hallways between classes, the bus loop, and school assemblies will be way too crowded to ensure safety and security.
Clarksburg has defied local, state, and national housing trends before – what if it does so again? 2016 is our line in the sand… our children cannot afford any further delays.
If you will, I’d like you to imagine a typical Montgomery County commute, down I-270 from Germantown. What would normally be a 30 minute drive to White Flint becomes a 1.5 hour headache because of an accident at Falls Road. You narrowly avoid 2 fender benders of your own. You didn’t fill up the car because you thought you had plenty of gas. You finally get into the office in fumes. Your boss is angry and you are frazzled. How ready are you to start work? How productive will you be?
This is the same stress our children experience every day, between every class, trying to get through the crowded halls in 5 minutes. 5 times a day – every day. Often, they end up late to class and are stressed out – and then they are expected to recover and learn, before repeating the process all over for the next class.
DO WE NEED TO SUBJECT OUR CHILDREN TO UNNECCESSARY STRESS?
Two years ago, when the Board of Education visited the Clarksburg Cluster, some of you may remember the bus tour during which you were taken on a long loop of the Clarksburg schools and communities. Even then, its population was exploding, and planned new schools and infrastructure couldn’t be built fast enough – and this was in a tough economy! Today, construction continues at a fast pace, with new families and children of all ages moving in.
In 2000, Clarksburg had less than 2,400 residents. Today, there are more than 14,000 residents – a 490% increase!
I would like to close by saying there is not one school or addition in Clarksburg that can be postponed if we are going to provide the best education possible for our children every day. We want to work with the Board of Education to help fund these projects, but we need the Board to learn from past inaccuracies in the projected numbers and make the correct decision now. The children of Clarksburg depend on it.